As we were planning our Cuban adventure we all agreed it would be great to leave the city of Havana for a couple days and explore the inland rural area of Vinales.
We had booked a Casa Particular which is Spanish for private home. Casa Particulares are private home stays, very much like a Bed & Breakfast. Private citizens are allowed to rent out rooms in their homes for tourists. Casa Particulares can be found throughout Cuba and are identified by a small sign on the door, with two blue triangles (“roofs”) against a white background.
To get to Vinales we had to secure a taxi in Havana to drive us the 180 kilometers. The other trick was to communicate that we wanted them to come pick us up 2 days later and negotiate a price. All with broken Spanish on our part and no English on taxi drivers’ parts. The night before we were to depart, Ron negotiated with a driver and thought it was all arranged for the old car of his choice and a rate he agreed to. In the morning, we discovered that wasn’t necessarily the case.
After readying the boat for our 2 day absence, tying fenders at multiple heights to protect the side of the boat from the rough concrete dock and allow for rising and falling tides, asking our neighbors to check on it occasionally, we made our way to the planned taxi pickup area.
We waited and still no taxi. Ron walked down to the taxi depot in the marina again, and discovered the preferred taxi was there, but the driver was not the same and this driver didn’t know anything about the prearranged deal. So…. more negotiations occurred.
Eventually, we thought it all got sorted and this 1952 Chevy rolled up to pick up the rest of us.
“Enjoyed the drive” may be too generous of a word for those of us in the back seat. Having old 1950’s cars as taxis in Cuba is cool, but some of those backseats have not been refurbished, and have had over 60 years of butts in them. Needless to say after 2.5 hours of sagging into the middle we were ready to get out.
Once arrived another negotiation ensued (in broken Spanish and no English) to be sure the driver would pick us up in two days to drive us back to Havana. With that sorted (or so we thought) we got ready to enjoy exploring Vinales and our Casa Particular.